US election 2020: Trump and Biden feud over debate topics

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  • US election 2020

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US President Donald Trump and his White House challenger Joe Biden argue over plans for their final debate.

The Republican president’s campaign accused the showdown organizers of helping the Democrat by removing foreign policy from the agenda this week.

The Biden camp replied that Mr Trump was trying to avoid questions about his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Biden has a national lead in opinion polls two weeks before the election.

But it has a smaller head start in the few major US states that will ultimately determine the outcome.

  • The countdown: Biden, Beastie Boys and early voting

What did the Trump campaign say about the debate?

On Monday, the President’s camp sent a letter to the Presidential Debate Commission requesting that the themes be adjusted for the final primetime duel that Thursday.

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in the letter that the campaigns had already agreed that foreign policy would be the focus of the third debate.

The topics were announced by presenter and NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker last week: American families, racing in America, climate change, national security and leadership.

Image rightsGetty ImagesImage descriptionMr Trump has held major campaign events

During a Monday afternoon rally in Prescott, Arizona, Trump described Ms. Welker as a “radical Democrat” and said she was “no good”.

Mr Stepien accused Mr Biden of “being desperate to avoid talking about his own foreign policy records” and of trying the Commission to “isolate Biden from his own history”.

“The Commission’s pro-biden antics have turned the entire debate season into a fiasco, and it’s no wonder why the public has lost faith in its objectivity,” he wrote.

He also accused Mr Biden of avoiding questions about reports of alleged emails from his son Hunter and alleged conflicts of interest.

How did the Biden campaign react?

The Democratic camp hit back that it was, in fact, Mr Trump trying to answer questions.

“The campaigns and the commission agreed months ago that the debate moderator would select the topics,” said national press secretary TJ Ducklo.

Image rightsGetty Images

“The Trump campaign is now lying about it because Donald Trump is afraid to ask more questions about his disastrous Covid response.

“As usual, the president is more concerned with the rules of debate than with a nation in crisis getting the help it needs.”

What are the rules for the upcoming debate?

After public criticism of the handling of the first debate, the Commission adopted a new rule to mute microphones at the closing event.

The 90-minute debate structure is broken down into 15-minute sections. At the beginning of each new topic, both candidates have two minutes of uninterrupted time – during which the opponent’s microphone is switched off.

The rest of the time is openly discussed – and the microphones are not muted during that time.

In a statement announcing the decision, the Debate Commission said it was “appropriate to take action to encourage compliance with agreed rules”.

The commission found that “one [campaign] Perhaps they think they are going too far and one might think that they are not going far enough “but that these measures strike the right balance in the public interest.

What happened to the last two debates?

The Trump campaign leader wrote Monday that the moderator of the canceled October 15 second debate, Steve Scully, had been suspended after tweeting a prominent Trump critic and then lying about his account being hacked.

Mr. Stepien also accused the host of the first debate, Chris Wallace of Fox News, of acting as the “third fighter” against Mr. Trump.

The first Trump-Biden duel on September 29 led to insults and names, with the president interrupting the debate much more often than the Democrat, according to US media statistics.

How does the early voting work?

Almost 30 million early voters have already cast their votes, compared to just six million before the last presidential election in 2016.

Experts say the coronavirus pandemic has caused many to cast their votes early to avoid overcrowding at polling stations on November 3rd, although some early voters faced long lines.

On Monday, the Republicans were awarded defeat by the US Supreme Court for refusing to open a postal ballot case in the critical swing-voting state of Pennsylvania.

Republicans had argued that only ballots received on election day should be counted and contested a decision by the state Supreme Court to count late ballots.

After the American Supreme Court refused to hear the case, all ballots received within three days of November 3rd will be counted, even if they don’t have a unique postmark.

Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the three liberal judges of the court in this case.

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